, 8 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
Tonight is a reminder of the constitutional damage that's been done by letting party members - not MPs - choose party leaders. It has severed the central artery of the British parliamentary system: that a Prime Minister must command the confidence of the House of Commons.[THREAD]
2. Traditionally, when a Prime Minister can no longer carry their legislation through the Commons, there are two possible remedies: you can either change the Prime Minister, finding someone who *does* command a majority, or elect a new Parliament. Both are now more difficult.
3. If May were to resign, the new leader would be chosen by Tory activists - who mostly support "No Deal". But MPs overwhelmingly *oppose* No Deal. Far from solving the problem, the new PM would be even more out of step with parliamentary opinion than May.
4. Traditionally, the alternative is to call an election: but after the debacle of 2017, Tories would want to fight under a new leader. That now means balloting the members, which would take weeks - at a time when the clock is ticking - and would showcase the party's divisions.
5. It used to be a strength of the British constitution that it could change prime ministers in a matter of days - as when Major replaced Thatcher or Macmillan replaced Eden. That's only possible now if the party can avoid a contest altogether - locking the membership out.
6. The British political system only works if the Executive has the confidence of Parliament. Yet both the circuit-breakers that historically applied in a crisis of this kind have been disabled. So we're stuck with a PM in whom MPs have no confidence, but cannot safely remove.
7. In choosing to empower their members, parties have *disempowered* MPs. But parties are not private members clubs: they have to workour political institutions. In cutting the link between front & back benches, they've done lasting damage - & brought a Brexit crisis closer. END
PS: To save me typing this out a million times: I am aware that Theresa May was elected by MPs. My point concerns the difficulty of bringing executive and legislature back into alignment when a PM loses the confidence of Parliament and becomes unable to pass her legislation.
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